Seattle Athletic Director Bill Hogan has announced the hiring of Portia McGee as head coach of the women’s crew program. McGee brings vast local, national, and international experience to the position.

“I am excited to join Seattle University and take its women’s rowing team to the Division I varsity level,” McGee said. “Making this transition will be a challenge with great rewards for Seattle University, its supporters, and its student-athletes. With the strong local collegiate rowing scene and the commitment of the Seattle University athletic department, this team is in a great position to reach new heights and compete on the varsity level. I am honored by Seattle University for entrusting me with the leadership of this team and I look forward to beginning my work with the athletes and starting the upcoming season.”

McGee was a member of the 2008 USA Olympic Team, was named US Rowing Female Athlete of the Year in 2007, and was a World Champion in the Women’s Four the same year. She is also a seven-time member of the USA National Rowing Team.

During her collegiate rowing career at Brown she was a two-time gold medalist and a two-time silver medalist at the NCAA national championships. She was also First Team All-American as well as an Academic All-American in 2001. Though her collegiate competition took place on the east coast, McGee is a Seattle native and learned to row at Seattle’s Mount Baker Rowing Club.

Professionally, she served as Assistant Coach for the women’s crew program at Brown from 2004-06, during which the team competed at the 2005 and 2006 NCAA National Championship Regattas. Prior to this position, she also worked in alumni relations and development at the Brown University Sports Foundation and as the assistant to manager of operations at the Princeton National Rowing Association in the early 2000s.

Most recently, she has served as the assistant director of development and alumnae/i relations at The Bush School in Seattle. While there, she has worked to build donor relationships, developed new fundraising programs, and managed event logistics and communications related to the alumni office.

“Portia is a terrific person to start our women’s rowing program,” Hogan said. “Her Olympic experience in 2008 and long, highly successful rowing career will benefit our student-athletes. The Northwest has many talented rowers and we look forward to Portia building a strong program.”

Seattle U has previously offered men’s and women’s crew club programs, but women’s crew was elevated to a varsity sport in April 2012 as part of the athletic department’s NCAA certification process. The rich tradition of rowing in the Pacific Northwest, longstanding student interest, the success of the women’s club team, alumni support, and several other factors led to this decision. 

The Redhawks join Washington, Washington State, Oregon State, Gonzaga, and Portland as the sixth women’s Division I rowing program in Washington and Oregon. The women’s rowing program will begin DI intercollegiate competition in fall 2012 as an independent, while actively searching for conference affiliation.